THERESA May has ditched David Cameron’s pledges not to raise income tax or national insurance in a Conservative manifesto she said laid out a vision for dealing with the “five great challenges” of the coming years.

The Prime Minister promised there would be no increase in VAT over the next parliament if she wins the General Election on June 8 and confirmed corporation tax will fall to 17 per cent, but left Chancellor Philip Hammond flexibility to raise other taxes.

The manifesto includes plans to fund increased spending on social care by withdrawing the winter fuel payment from wealthier pensioners, and offers protection from the cost of social care for people with assets of £100,000 or less, a dramatic increase from the current £23,250 level in England. The package came under attack from the author of a review of social care, Sir Andrew Dilnot, who said he was “very disappointed” that a planned £72,000 cap on care costs was being scrapped - a move he said would leave elderly people “helpless” to control costs.

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Unveiling the document in the Tory target seat of Halifax, West Yorkshire, Mrs May said Britain was facing the most challenging period in the past 60 years. She restated her determination to get a good Brexit deal for Britain, but said her manifesto also addressed the challenges of building a strong economy, tackling social division and meeting the pressures of an ageing society and fast-changing technology.

She promised to govern for “mainstream Britain” and urged supporters of all parties to rally behind her drive to get the best possible deal from Brussels. The next five years are the most challenging that Britain has faced in my lifetime. Brexit will define us: our place in the world, our economic security and our future prosperity,” said Mrs May.

Some key features of the manifesto included:

l Commitment to stick to fiscal rules which require a balanced budget by 2025

l Promise to “keep tax as low as possible and spend the proceeds responsibly”, with a “firm intention” to reduce taxes on Britain’s businesses and working families

l Increase in personal income tax allowance to £12,500 and higher rate threshold to £50,000 by 2020

l National Living Wage to reach 60 per cent of median earnings by 2020

Labour leader Jeremy Mr Corbyn said the Tory plan to include the value of an elderly person’s property in the means test for care in their own home was a “very, very bad idea” as costs can be “enormous”.

He said: “It’s actually a tax on dementia, it’s a tax on people that have got extreme needs and I think we as a society should accept the principle of the National Health Service - that we want to make sure we actually care for everybody. He added: “If you start taking it (the cost) off the value of people’s homes, it doesn’t take very long - if you take an average house price across the whole country of somewhere around £280,000-£300,000 or so - it doesn’t take very long for that to disappear.”

He said a means test for the winter fuel allowance would be “very expensive”.